Could Surfers be the Ultimate Athlete?
Surfers have to deal with a lot of factors for every contest. They have to make decisions about the waves, which equipment is right for the spot and what type of fitness they need to do for the expected conditions.
NPR had an interesting story about surfers and surfing.
Compared with football, soccer, hockey where the fields are identical everywhere or baseball where the infield is the same while the outfield can change from venue to venue the conditions for surfing vary every day. In a sense this allows athletes that play sports on fields that do not change the opportunity (actually the requirement) to focus their skills on the specific skills to their playing field of choice.
Of course, the weather still is a factor (except with the modern invention of indoor stadiums), but overall these athletes have an advantage in that they know where the boundaries are. They know what the rules are. Surfing does not have such rules. Conditions change moment by moment. Like snowflakes … No two waves are ever exactly alike.
Factors to Consider --- Minute by Minute
The direction of the swell, the size of the swell, the contours of the bottom, and the rising and falling of the tides have a significant impact on what the surfer must adapt to in order to succeed.
To be a professional surfer you need to adapt to the huge surf of Pipeline and the very different kind of huge surf at Mavericks and the relatively junky surf you might get on any given day at any location. This is a skill that only comes with a lot of practice, experience and exposure (literally and figuratively) to the elements.
A few more factors to consider ---
- Can You Hold Your Breath for 2 minutes – while 20 tons of water is holding you down … then when you come up for air the next set is bearing down.
- The Locals --- Some surf breaks have an equally menacing group of locals. Hint: Don’t be a jerk and they’ll likely tolerate your intrusion into “their break”
- The Landlord --- The ultimate LOCAL. Yes, the ocean has sharks. Most other sports don’t need to deal with this ever present danger. (Truth be told … not a lot of surfers (or any other humans for that matter) are attacked by sharks)
Of course there are HUGE benefits to The Surfing Lifestyle
- Gorgeous Beaches
- Endless Summers (if you can afford it)
- A Smile that can last a lifetime (this is my favorite)
What do you think?
- Are surfers the ultimate athlete?
- What other sports demand such flexibility in thinking and planning?
- Should surfing be added as an Olympic sport?
- Is Surfing Like Golf? (I think YES … see how here)
The inspiration for this post came from an NPR segment on Sept 9th 2011 and was highlighted in my post: Surfing Comes to New York
Image Credits: Surfline, Leoboudv, Stan Shebs